It Matters To Me

Posted in IndyCar on October 22, 2018 by Oilpressure

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I’m not sure what it is about IndyCar racing that brings out my inner detail-nerd. Female co-workers can completely change their hair style and color, and I don’t notice it. Susan can wear a new outfit and I never comment on it because it looks like all the others to me. A couple of years ago, a male co-worker commented on a shirt I was wearing and remarked that I wore it about three weeks earlier. I found the comment sort of strange on several levels, but one was that I don’t even remember what I wore yesterday – much less three weeks ago.

But when it comes to IndyCar racing, I seem to observe the most minute details. This past May, Paul Dalbey and I went to the IMS Museum one afternoon during qualifying. We spent about thirty minutes in front of the car presented as the 1992 winning car of Al Unser, Jr., pointing out the differences between the car in front of us and the car in the winning photos. From the incorrect rear wing that had come off of a Lola instead of a Galmer, to the 1993 style wheels all the way to incorrect placement of decals – we proceeded to pick it apart for things we were both noticing.

When our wives joined us at dinner at Dawson’s that night, I thought Susan might get up and leave the table as Paul and I described the nuances between the 1991 and 1992 Lola as well as the differences between a 1994 and 1995 Reynard. It’s hard to believe the massive eye-rolls that such a conversation generates, because I find it so fascinating. I think one reason why Paul and I get along so well is because we both have a keen eye for small details and we both enjoy totally useless trivia, when it comes to IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500 in particular.

Last week I noticed another interesting piece of what some will consider worthless minutiae. During the Firestone test at IMS last Wednesday, it was the first chance for cars to run on the new sealer that has been put down on the track surface. I believe the official term for it is an RPE penetrant, which is mainly to waterproof the surface somewhat and seal some of the existing cracks.

If you listened to Trackside last week, you heard Curt Cavin discussing it. He had mentioned that the track looked darker, but it was expected to lighten up some by May. That didn’t really bother me because the surface had lightened up considerably since it was put down prior to the 2005 race.

I watched some videos of the test where they tested, not only for a new tire compound for next May but new aero pieces to try and improve the oval racing next season. Six cars took part in the test. Former winners Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Will Power and Alexander Rossi were joined by Ed Carpenter and Graham Rahal. They spent a good portion of the day running in a string of six, because the trailing car in a pack really suffered last year on ovals. Reportedly, the tweaks worked well in combination with the tire and the reconditioned track surface.

So what does the test have to do with IndyCar details and minutiae? While I watched the videos and took note of the darker track surface, it dawned on me that the annoying Formula One grid marks just south of the yard of bricks was no longer visible.

To me, this was a huge deal. For decades, camera shots looking down the main straightaway brought your focus strictly to the cars on the track. Since the first US Grand Prix at IMS in 2000, alternating side-to-side grid marks have been painted on the southern part of the main straightaway to mark where the F1 cars should line up for their standing starts. From 2000 until a few weeks ago, these grid marks have been there. Now they are gone.

Many of you will now be convinced that I’m neurotic, but those things have really bothered me. Some of you reading this have probably been oblivious to the fact that they were even there for eighteen years. You might even have to go back and look at photos from this century to even know what I’m talking about. Others probably knew they were there, but it didn’t really matter to them if they were there or not. But it matters to me.

There will be a very small minority of people out there that are in full agreement with me on this – but not many. Still, I always cringed just a little bit when I looked at any photo or video and saw the cars going over those marks. I found them irritating, annoying and very distracting.

If you are watching the Super Bowl, would you really want to see the lines of a soccer field drawn over the gridiron? It bothers me to watch a college basketball game on a floor that is also marked for volleyball. I’m normally not obsessive compulsive about most things, but when it comes to bigtime sports – I want them to have a bigtime look.

In my mind, you don’t get any bigger than the Indianapolis 500. I want the track to look like it did prior to 1994 when it was used for only one event per year. I don’t want to see faded paint from an event two weeks ago or twelve years ago. Whatever is in the sealant has done something where those lines are no longer visible. If the track lightens up by next May as Curt Cavin predicts, I hope those grid marks don’t come back.

Now that I’ve convinced you that my obsession with the Indianapolis 500 has gone from quirky to borderline psychotic, you may think I’ve lost my mind. The thing is – this is nothing recent. I’ve always been this way when it comes to IndyCar. These things matter to me. Now…just what did I wear yesterday?

George Phillips

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Should Ed Carpenter Focus Solely On ECR?

Posted in IndyCar on October 19, 2018 by Oilpressure

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This was an eventful week at Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR). After hinting that he was looking for a full-time ride for 2019, we learned on Monday that driver Jordan King would not be returning to the No.20 car of ECR for the non-ovals. The very next day, it announced that Ed Jones would be taking over that ride for the non-ovals as well as a third car (No.64) in the Indianapolis 500, through an arrangement with Scuderia Corsa. Ed Carpenter will continue to contest all of the ovals in the No.20 car, including the 2019 Indianapolis 500; while Spencer Pigot will drive the No.21 entry in all seventeen races on the 2019 schedule.

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The Preferred Sport At A Cheaper Price

Posted in IndyCar on October 17, 2018 by Oilpressure

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What I’m going to say here won’t shock many people that are regular readers of this site or call themselves hard-core racing fans. I’m sort of preaching to the choir here, but that’s what we IndyCar fans do in the offseason when there is no racing going on – we talk about how superior our sport is to other sports.

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A Review: “Born Racer”

Posted in IndyCar on October 12, 2018 by Oilpressure

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In today’s world, this is considered very old news. Most of you know by now that Born Racer was released last week on Tuesday October 2. The website for the film says that it was to be released in theaters on that date, but other than the occasional IMAX Theater – I’m not sure how many theaters it actually has run in. Fortunately, it was released on DVD and digital that day as well.

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Honor The Andretti Family Next May

Posted in IndyCar on October 10, 2018 by Oilpressure

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Next year will be a year of commemorating major milestones. 1969 saw the New York Jets upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, witnessed man’s first steps on the surface of the moon (which I will always consider the greatest accomplishment in my lifetime) and Woodstock were some of the events that all took place in 1969.

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Somehow, This Needs To Happen

Posted in IndyCar on October 8, 2018 by Oilpressure

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Last Thursday, I had lunch with an old friend and former co-worker. It’s been about four years since we’ve worked together, as he has moved on to bigger and better things. He has been a life-long NASCAR fan, but in the time we worked together – I enlightened him on the virtues of IndyCar racing.

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The Never-Ending Search For Driving Talent

Posted in IndyCar on October 5, 2018 by Oilpressure

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For the last several seasons, we have seen the results of a strengthened ladder system come to fruition in the IndyCar Series. Recent graduates of the Road to Indy program have not only made their way into IndyCar, but they have found success. Josef Newgarden is the poster child for this recent trend. He won the Indy Lights championship in 2011 and was offered a fulltime ride with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing for the 2012 season. We all know the story. After struggling as a rookie, Newgarden learned and made dramatic improvement each season. He caught the eye of Roger Penske and won the 2017 IndyCar championship in his first season with The Captain.

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